Man shot and killed near Occupy Oakland encampment

crime scene occupy oakland ogawa plaza

The crime scene of a shooting at Frank Ogawa Plaza was blocked off by Oakland police for much of Thursday evening. The shooting occurred around 5pm near the entrance to the BART station at 14th and Broadway.

On Occupy Oakland’s one-month anniversary, a man was shot and killed on the outskirts of the encampment Thursday afternoon.

Witnesses at the scene said the victim was shot at around 5 pm, following an altercation with a small group of African American men that erupted near the portable toilets on the northeast side of the encampment.

Police Chief Howard Johnson confirmed at a press conference that the victim, whose name was being withheld, died in the hospital about two hours after being shot.

Israel Jurich, a camp volunteer who was working at the Interfaith tent at the time of the incident, said he heard several shots ring out, then saw the victim running toward the intersection of Broadway and 14th Street. He said the victim—whom other witnesses identified as an African American man wearing jeans and a red and white jacket—collapsed about 15 feet from the BART station entrance.

A crowd immediately formed around the victim, some holding up their cell phones, he said.

Charmz Valentino, 26, one of the bystanders who surrounded the victim after he collapsed, said that she ran towards the scene after hearing “four or five gunshots.”

“Me and a couple of my friends, one of which is a medic, ran towards it,” Valentino said. “When I got to him someone was trying to resuscitate him. We were linking arms to create a barrier, so that the press couldn’t get in to see what was happening.”

Several bystanders, including some camp medics, according to witnesses, tried to revive the young man by performing chest compressions.

“There was quite a bit of blood everywhere,” Valentino said.

In a statement distributed by her press liaison, Mayor Jean Quan called the shooting “unacceptable” regardless of whether it was directly related to the Occupy Oakland encampment. “Whether a murder occurs here or at 98th and International, I call on all Oaklanders to demand peace and reject violence anywhere,” the statement read.

Quan said the shooting “underscores the reason why the encampment must end. The risks are too great.” She called camping “a tactic, not a solution,” and said that as part of her office’s effort to persuade the campers to leave voluntarily, she was sending outreach workers to Frank Ogawa plaza tonight and making available “additional shelter beds” at CityTeam Ministries, for men, and Crossroads Shelter, for women.

Just after the shooting, according to Isreal Jurich, a television reporter who arrived on the scene before the police, was assaulted by protesters after he tried to take video of the victim on the ground. The reporter, cameraman Randy Davis of San Francisco television station ABC Channel 7, was punched, according to Jurich. The station confirmed Thursday evening that Davis was assaulted and injured by crowd members.

Several police cars and an ambulance arrived on the scene about five minutes after the shooting. Witnesses said paramedics were performing CPR on the victim as they loaded him into the ambulance. As police officers secured the crime scene, three protesters began lighting candles around its perimeter.

At 6 pm, about 50 protesters gathered in the amphitheater in Frank Ogawa Plaza to discuss how the camp should deal with the incident. In their signature style of communal communication, which they call the “human mic,” protesters took turns expressing their opinions in chunks of five words or less, while the people around them repeated each statement in unison so that everyone could hear.

occupy oakland vigil for shooting victim frank ogawa plaza

Vigils for the shooting victim were held throughout the evening at the Occupy Oakland camp at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

“I think this was inevitable at some point,” said one young woman from Berkeley who declined to give her real name, but identified herself at Sky MS. “We are in Oakland,” she said, adding that the camp should send a representative to speak to the media to “show we are not afraid of what happened and it has nothing to do with us.”

Dave Firestein, 28, an elementary school teacher in Hayward, disagreed. “This is not an opportunity to showboat for the press,” he said. “We are not politicians. This was not us. And we don’t need to talk to them.”

But Sky countered: “I think we need to remember that there’s violence that happens in every city and that it is targeted against people of color–which is part of why we are here. This is an opportunity to provide some analysis here, to recognize that what we are fighting against is part of this issue.”

occupy oakland shooting ogawa plaza

Detectives from OPD arrive at the scene of the shooting shortly before 6pm.

The group was divided as to whether they should present a unified front to the media or “focus on supporting and comforting each other,” as one woman said.

The group eventually agreed to hold a vigil at 10 pm, which would be open to anyone who wanted to participate, and would circle the plaza.

“Though this is tragic,” one woman said, “we need to find a way to honor our one month anniversary, while honoring the life that was lost here tonight.”

You can see Oakland North’s complete coverage of Occupy Oakland here. 

NOTE: this isn’t the first death associated with an Occupy camp in North America.  On Saturday, November 6, a woman in her early twenties was found dead in a tent at the Occupy Vancouver encampment. Since news of the incident broke, Vancouver’s mayor has also ordered camp residents to be evicted, but protesters have vowed to stay. Vancouver’s Global BC News Hour has the story

CORRECTION: A version of this article published on November 10, 2011 incorrectly quoted a source as saying that ABC 7 reporter Randy Davis was punched in the face by protesters. The article has been changed to reflect ABC 7′s confirmation that Davis was struck in the head and not in the face.


6 Comments

  1. Woodstock to Altamont at internet speed.
    No police presence.
    The blood is on the hands of Quan and Council for allowing OO to continue so long.

    -len raphael, temescal
    recallquan.com

    • Elmo

      No, the blood is on the hands of generations of systemic oppression, poverty, lack of education, lack of support to young mothers and fathers, lack of food, lack of shelter,lack of adequate outreach and lack of resources to those afflicted by institutionalized racism.

      Don’t act like you give a shit about who died yesterday. Don’t use this mans life and death for your own selfish politics. You are disgusting.

      There are shootings all over Oakland. This entire city is a crime scene. Ever heard of Oscar Grant? Don’t blame the camp or the Mayor because it’s a convenient hot topic on fox news.

      • livegreen

        There are no recent shootings at the Plaza. & the fact that the victim had been visiting the camp DOES tie the incident to it (just because he might not have been a political activist doesn’t eliminate the connection).

        Maybe it could have happened somewhere else in Oakland. But it didn’t.

      • I get really tired of hearing how the problem with Blacks is poverty and racism. If it’s so horrible in the United States, go live in Africa. I’m sure you will be rich and successful there without all this poverty and racism.

  2. israel jurich

    Thank you for your coverage of Occupy Oakland. I just wanted to warn that you rely too heavily on my testimony alone and that there is some information that might have been misunderstood by your reporter in taking notes. Alex was not wearing red and white (according to my memory). Also, though the young man may have been an African-American, I explicitly denied my ability to confirm that information. Please show care in handling eyewitness testimony. Specifics matter in offering trustworthy reporting. Also, though a punch may have been thrown at the camera-person (man in a blue jacket) who was trying to interfere with the injured man’s aid, I could not say that it was a punch to the face… that seems to be a detailed added by the liberty of your reporter. Finally, the 10PM vigil was planned yesterday 18 hours before the shooting ever happened. The vigil which was intended to be a vigil for peace and solidarity with the community of people in the encampment became a vigil for the solace and peace of the community and the memory of the young man who lost his life. Our hearts are with his family, our spirits ssustain his memory.

    • Israel, thank you for your comment. We have changed the error we made in attributing testimony to you regarding Randy Davis being punched in the face and have noted this in the article. Information regarding the victim’s appearance was corroborated by other witnesses, and attribution given appropriately. We have not changed information regarding the vigil, because while it is accurate that it had been planned in advance, there was a meeting held at 6pm Thursday to discuss whether or not the vigil should still happen in light of events, and it was ultimately decided that the vigil would proceed, as a memorial and an anniversary celebration. We apologize for any misrepresentation of your testimony that occurred as a result of miscommunication between the multiple reporters on the ground Thursday night.

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